Monday, June 27, 2011

Chimp Trekking!

I just got back from chimp tracking. It was an amazingly cool experience. I did it in Queen Elizabeth National Park, which is about 4-5 hours by bus north of here. The chimps are all in a deep, heavily forested gorge surrounded by open savannah. The savannah is the real Africa, and has lions, elephants, leopards etc. That is why we carry a gun! The first day we spent about 2 hours trying to find them. The ranger knew basically where they were, and we would occasionally hear their calls, but it still took a while to find them. Once we did though, what an amazing experience! They were all on the ground resting after a long day of picking fruits in the trees. The alpha male would occasionally make some very loud screams and shake branches to assert his dominance. It gave us quite a fright the first time! We were able to get within about 5 meters of them, and there were 17 chimps all around us. The next morning I went again. It only took about an hour or so to find them this time. They were all up in the trees this time eating. I saw one chimp high in the trees eating ants using a stick she tore the bark off of. It was so cool to see her using tools! We also saw a group of about a dozen hippos in the nearby river. They are the deadliest animals in Africa, and, seeing them in the wild, it is clear why!

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